The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Kaduna State has asked the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to investigate the Kaduna State Government for allegedly inducing Muslim clerics with money to campaign for the ruling All Progressives Congress in mosques across the state.
The opposition party based the allegation on a document it said emanated from the director-general of the state Ministry of Interfaith Affairs, Namadi Musa, detailing how money was shared among prominent Islamic clerics in the state.
But the state government said the document was forged by the opposition PDP to exacerbate the religious division in the state.
The document which was seen by PREMIUM TIMES listed seven top Muslim clerics and the amount allegedly paid to them by the ministry.
The PDP campaign spokesperson, Yakubu Lere, in a statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES called on EFCC and security agencies to investigate the document which has been circulated on the social media.
“It is most unfortunate that Kaduna State government will use our meagre resources to drag these Imams into politics and create division among Muslims ummah as well as create religious and ethnic tensions in the state as we approach the gubernatorial elections.
“We equally want to call on security agencies to commence an investigation into the matter for possible arrest and prosecution of those Imams under the hate speech law introduced by the federal government, for preaching violence.
“It is most unfortunate that a government that is supposed to use its resources in uniting the people and encourage religious and ethnic harmony will rather encourage Muslim clerics in the state to brainwash their followers to take the next election as a holy war against Christians,” Mr Lere said.
PREMIUM TIMES, who spoke with the director-general, Mr Musa, denied writing the document.
Mr Musa who spoke in Hausa said he is not the author of the said document.
“I saw the document too but let me tell you clear and straight that at no point in time did I write such a letter detailing how monies should be shared to some Islamic Imams in Kaduna.
“I never authored it. in fact, the signature forgery was not done perfectly. My signature ends with Mohammad, not Musa as written on the letter and all our memo going out must be written on a letterhead which is not the case in this document.
“We have some SA’s (special assistants) to the governor on the list that could have gotten their share directly and not from me if that really happened. I wouldn’t have to be the one to give it to them. They are Sheikh Khamis Almisiri and Sheikh Albani Samaru Zaria.
“I am calling on Sheikh Tukur Almannar, Sheikh Murtala Shanono, Sheikh Aminu Kuwait, Sheikh Saidu Abubakar, Sheikh Balau and Sheikh Kabiru Gombe to please accept my apology for appearing on the list, Allah will judge those who did this,” Mr Musa said.
The campaigns in Kaduna long took a trend in which Muslim and Christian clerics have been calling on their faithful to vote for specific candidates.
Governor Nasir El-Rufai of the APC is seeking reelection but faces a tough challenge from a former member of the House of Representatives, Isah Ashiru, who is the candidate of the PDP.
Mr El-Rufai has chosen a Muslim woman, Hadiza Balarabe, as his running mate. The choice has further stirred controversy in a state where the governorship tickets traditionally have the Muslim/Christian balance to reflect the religious composition of the state.
A resident who spoke to PREMIUM TIMES, Ahmed Umaru, said there is heightened tension in the state with the political parties rounding up their campaigns.
“Yes, some cleric where preaching that their followers should vote for a specific candidate. There is that rumour that some of them were paid. The call is for Muslims to vote for incumbent governor with a Muslim deputy governor.”
Also, the spokesperson of Mr El-Rufai, Samuel Aruwan, has dismissed the purported memo as fake.
“The PDP has repeatedly exposed itself as the party of violence, rigging and division. Their latest gimmick of circulating a fake memo alleging payments to certain Imams is part of their addiction to everything unholy.
“The memo attributed to the Director-General (Interfaith) is not only fake but laughable. We pity a party that is so short of ideas that they have adopted fake news and forgery as their manifesto. This will fail because Kaduna people have rejected the poor legacy of the PDP’s 16 years in power.
“The APC Kaduna Campaign Council notes that the PDP could not disassociate itself from repeated incitement to violence by their spokesman. Also, their very weak candidate has been talking of the content that was eventually contained in the fake documents they are circulating, showing that the PDP is the instigator of the forgery,” Mr Aruwan said in a statement.